Mass Rapes Spike in Somalia

    A newly arrived elderly Somali woman waits with others new arrivals to be registered as refugees in Doolow, south western Somalia. UN refugee agency chief Antonio Guterres said today that relief groups should increase aid to war-battered and drought-hit Somalis to reduce the exodus to neighbouring countries. Doolow is the main exit point for Somalis from Bay, Bakool and Gedo regions fleeing to Ethiopia to escape war and a severe drought currently ravaging the country, with the UN declaring famine in five Somali regions.    AFP PHOTO / TONY KARUMBA (Photo credit should read TONY KARUMBA/AFP/Getty Images)

    TONY KARUMBA / Getty Images

    In war-torn Somalia, an alarming increase in gang rapes of women and girls at the hands of radical Islamic militants has created a climate of fear throughout the country. Ravaged by unceasing combat and a nationwide famine, Somalis are now facing a sexual-abuse epidemic. According to U.N. officials, the Shabab militants are raping girls and women, forcing arranged marriages, and taking women as sex slaves to pay their militiamen. Aid workers and victims say that armed and even government soldiers are also pillaging overcrowded refugee camps, raping and killing their victims. Fartuun Adan, who runs Somalia’s Elman Peace and Human Rights Center, says many women are afraid of telling their stories. “There’s no justice here, no protection.”

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